Report: Toyota To Miss N. American Output Target

Toyota will produce 350,000 vehicles in North America from February to April, down 20 percent from automaker's original target, Japan's top business daily said.

TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota Motor Corp. is likely to miss its February-April production target in North America by 20 percent due to slumping sales amid massive recalls, Japan's top business daily said Friday.

Toyota will produce 350,000 vehicles in North America from February to April, down 20 percent from the automaker's original target, the Nikkei business daily said, citing unnamed sources.

Toyota spokeswoman Ririko Takeuchi could not confirm the report, saying the company has not released latest production figures for the region.

The Nikkei said the world's biggest automaker has already told auto parts suppliers about the lower production.

Toyota has recalled 8.5 million vehicles, more than 6 million of them in the United States -- the automaker's biggest market -- battering its reputation for safety and quality.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda on Wednesday appeared before Congress and repeatedly apologized for safety problems that have resulted in the recalls.

He visited the assembly line at the company's largest North American manufacturing plant Thursday and met with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, repeating pledges to boost safety efforts.

To cope with falling sales following the recalls, Toyota said in late January it would halt production temporarily in San Antonio, Texas, and Georgetown, Kentucky, in March and April.

The Kentucky plant, which makes the Camry, Avalon and Venza vehicles, also plans to take a non-production day on Feb. 26. The Texas plant makes the Tundra pickup truck.

Toyota already halted production of eight models covered by the U.S. recall for five days in early February at four plants in the U.S. and one in Canada.

Shares in Toyota rose 2.3 percent to 3,345 yen in the morning session Friday.

Masatoshi Sato, market analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities Co. Ltd., said it was a technical rebound following heavy selling of Toyota stocks amid the recall crisis.

"Investors already expected Toyota's U.S. sales to fall sharply in the wake of the recall crisis. What we cannot predict here is how long falling sales will drag on," said Sato.

Toyota's sales in the United States tumbled 16 percent in January even though sales by most other rivals rebounded from last year's dismal results.

If slumping sales in the United States continue, Toyota may have to suspend output in North America further and downgrade its worldwide production projection for this year, the Nikkei said.

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